WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest alumnus and former football and baseball player David Couch ('84) has committed $4 million in support of the Wake Forest baseball program and Sports Performance Center.
The majority of Couch's gift -- $3 million -- is designated for the baseball program and will help fund the next phase of the Wake Forest Baseball Park stadium renovation. Estimated at approximately $9 million, plans call for the construction of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse, renovation and relocation of the home dugout and bullpen, construction of a pitching lab and creation of a new concourse viewing platform. The new clubhouse will be located along the third-base line and will include locker rooms, coaches offices, a team lounge, training room, equipment room, video room, team meeting room, professional players locker space and a Wake Forest baseball heritage area. The home dugout will be relocated to the third-base side of the stadium, and the pitching lab will be built adjacent to the renovated bullpen.
The remainder of Couch's gift is designated for the Sports Performance Center. The Sports Performance Center will be located between the Miller Center and the McCreary Field House on the Reynolda campus and will feature a robust strength and conditioning facility that enables multiple athletes in different sports to work out simultaneously.
The announcement of Couch's gift was made Thursday night during Wake Forest's biennial First Pitch Dinner, which raises funds for the baseball program. Couch was recognized with a ceremonial first pitch from the evening's keynote speaker, MLB all-star and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, John Smoltz.
"Through David's vision, through his commitment to helping our program reach the next level, and through his willingness to step up and make this generous lead gift, we're going to be able to provide our baseball players with the best player development center in the country," said head coach Tom Walter as he introduced Couch at the Thursday night event. "David has made a significant impact on our program. He not only gets involved by writing a check, but he gets involved by rolling up his sleeves, getting his lunch pail and his hard hat out, and helping us put pen to paper and go to work and figure out how to make a difference."
"I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to be in a position to make this gift to Wake Forest -- to this fantastic institution and to the baseball program," Couch said. "The game of baseball has taught me wonderful life lessons that I use every single day -- how to manage failure, how you recover from it very, very quickly and not focus on it -- all lessons that have served me well throughout my career. I'm extremely passionate about this University and what it stands for, and the character and integrity up, across and down through our entire organization here at Wake Forest. It's just tremendous, and that's what has motivated me to make this gift."
"We are incredibly grateful for David's commitment to our program. He inspires others through his leadership and generosity, and he's an excellent role model for our student-athletes," Director of Athletics Ron Wellman said. "As a former coach and student-athlete, David has a unique understanding of how important both the baseball stadium renovation and the Sports Performance Center are to the success of our program, and we appreciate his generous gift which will have a significant impact on the training of all our student-athletes and overall excellence of our baseball program."
Couch serves as the CEO of Blue Ridge Companies, Inc., a High Point-based company that is one of the Southeast's most prolific developers of apartments, shopping centers, condos, town homes and restaurants located across the Carolinas and into Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi. Couch was recently inducted into the Westchester Country Day School's Hall of Fame for his contributions to their baseball program. He has been a longtime supporter of Wake Forest University and the Athletic Department. His pledge brings his total commitment to the Wake Will campaign to more than $4.6 million. A member of the Deacon Club for more than twenty years, Couch currently serves on the Deacon Club Board of Directors as well as the Wake Will Campaign Athletic Committee, Football Executive Committee and the Baseball Steering Committee.
Couch believes in inspiring others to make a difference and cites his personal mission statement as a key factor in his decision to support the baseball program and the Sports Performance Center. "My life's purpose is to strive daily to be my highest self, and awaken in others the drive to achieve their highest self by inspiring them and opening doors to create a better future."
He is also motivated by the opportunities he received as a student-athlete.
"I was on scholarship at one of the finest schools in the country, and I was very blessed to have that opportunity," Couch said. "The education I received has served me extremely well throughout my professional career. The caliber of the education here is and always has been phenomenal, and the University continually strives to improve on all fronts -- everything is better today -- and I think it's incumbent upon those of us who have been given opportunities in the past to motivate ourselves and try to encourage others to give back and to continue that pursuit of sustained excellence here at Wake Forest."
When asked what motivated him to make this recent donation, Couch said, "We have a coach who is committed to the pursuit of excellence both on and off the field, and he is having a tremendous impact on the program. The investments that have been made in our facilities over the past few years illustrate Wake Forest's commitment to baseball. Now we need to continue to build on that momentum and give our coaches and team the resources they need to be competitive on the field and in recruiting."